What is your medium of choice?

Encaustic aka Hot Wax (made with Beeswax granules & Damar resin) and Cold Wax, (a mixture of oil paint and Cold Wax medium).

When/How did you discover this medium and make it your own?

Entirely by accident, through a friend who somehow learned of encaustic workshops in Anchorage and called me saying I should take a workshop. I flew into Anchorage for several years for workshops, eventually buying studio time and then was able to build my own studio.  Prior to Encaustics, I worked with acrylic paint, pottery, fiber and more. 

Where and how do you work?  

My backyard studio is set up just for Encaustic and Cold Wax work with five stations for workshops but primarily it’s for me with my equipment and supplies spread all over.  It’s not a medium to do in the house given the heat guns, small torches, heated palettes, involved. I think about and see patterns, all the time so when I start painting that might be a starting point, but as I often say to workshop participants, “The wax makes as many decisions as I do if not more.”  Wax moves around when heated so surprises start to happen almost immediately.  

How does your creativity/art making fit into your life?  

Having a separate studio building makes it easier to work any time I want.  It’s always on my mind, but I usually paint during the winter and early spring as my big plant beds consume me during the summer. Another creative process.  I’m very involved with the Kenai Fine Art Center’s plans and projects. It’s important to me as is community involvement in general.

I think we all get frustrated at times in our lives.  Whether with our art or with life in general. Can you share a frustrating moment with us and how you dealt with it?  

I have “Essential Tremor” which causes my hands, head etc. to shake. It’s not Parkinson’s Disease, it’s just the shakes. Not painful but a bother to be sure, sometimes causing amazing spills.  It doesn’t affect my painting too much, and I’ve ceased to be self-conscious about it but sometimes requires an explanation to avoid confusion. 

When my kids were little, life was very frustrating, so I painted after they went to bed, often til 2-3am. The art classes offered through the college at that time were life savers and helping start the Art Guild was supportive to all involved.

Our long Alaska winter nights are frustrating. I walk a few miles most evenings with my dog so loss of daylight “forces” me into the studio earlier in the day/evening than my biorhythm likes.  Not a bad frustration to have.

Have you found current events to be inspirational or stifling? How have they impacted your art? 

Current events are profoundly depressing.  Staying busy is the answer to most issues for me.  I research other artists (often European), try to stretch myself, choose colors I don’t normally use, work on larger substrates, or employ different papers/textures.  Talking with other artists about their work & creative challenges is always a positive.  I also continue to worry about art & music in our schools. 

Do you see new roles developing for artists/art?

Artists of all stripes are offering greatly increased access to their methods through on-line classes, often teaming up with others for several days of instruction.  It’s an increased educational/creative opportunity for all and for those trying to stay alive financially. 

I would guess this will continue after the virus threat subsides.  Artists traditionally reflect life’s influences.  That will go on.  Let’s hope our galleries/theaters/cultural centers can survive.  We need them.

How do you share your creativity? 

I’m an advocate for the arts in my community. Personally, I participate in several art shows every year: the Kenai Fine Art Center’s bi-annual Juried show or the Open show, the annual Harvest Auction show, and one or two exhibits in Anchorage with fellow members of the “Alaska Wax” group of encaustic/cold wax artists.

I teach encaustic workshops now and then to groups of 4 or 5 in my studio and usually have a show in the KPC gallery about every 4-5 years.  As a member of the KFAC BOD, getting artists into the gallery for shows/workshops for our community, and coming up with events is creatively satisfying.

What ideas do you have for how artists can share their work with the community?

Take part in the Kenai Fine Art Center shows, workshops and events.  Offer to teach a workshop at KFAC, or assist with one. Take art classes at Kenai Peninsula College and participate in their student shows.  Local restaurants and galleries accommodate art work exhibits on a rotating basis.  It’s important to know how to hang and display a show, also a creative process.  I love doing it and happy to help others.  

Displaying and selling your work online is normal for many.  Ask someone to help you if you don’t know how to get started.